Ashburton has a population of 18,500 with another 12,500 living in the wider district. The wealth that irrigation has brought to this area has resulted in exceptional facilities for a community this size – a modern events centre, a man-made recreational lake close to the town (Lake Hood), and a secondary level hospital. Soon to be completed are a new aquatic centre, sports stadium, art gallery and museum. 95% of people living in the district are happy with their quality of life, and over 80% believe the community spirit is good or very good.
Other benefits that irrigation schemes can provide communities include the integration of domestic drinking and stock water, and the provision of water for rural firefighting purposes.
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The environment is being cared for. Many irrigators are working directly with environmental groups to improve biodiversity. The North Otago Irrigation Company is supporting a New Zealand Landcare Trust project to improve water quality in the Kakanui catchment.